There are few filmmakers more reliable than Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, which made it all the more surprising when this spring at the Cannes Film Festival, their latest “The Unknown Girl” was mostly met with a shrug by critics. Jessica Kiang called it a “disappointment,” likening the film, about a young doctor who searches for the truth about a woman she turned away who wound up dead, as not much more than “an above-average feature-length episode of a TV procedural.” And the Dardennes have heard their critics.
Screen Daily reveals that the siblings have gone back to the editing room, made 32 revisions and cuts, and delivered a new version of “The Unknown Girl” that’s seven minutes shorter than the one that screened at Cannes. Apparently, the plan was always to tweak the movie after it debuted on the Croisette, but things got a bit more extensive once the duo saw the reviews roll in.
“There are several critics who are also friends who liked it a lot but thought there were certain places in the film that didn’t work very well,” Luc Dardenne told the trade. “I believe it was that which prompted our concern. We were ready to make changes.”
The pair thinks this one works better, so it’ll be interesting to see if critics come back around on the film. There’s no release date yet, but I’d wager it’s a safe bet that it will hit the fall festival circuit to try and drum up more favorable press before it rolls into an arthouse near you.